Simulation technology close imitation of fantasy films

Drew Shornak | Staff Photographer

The ability to use technology from a galaxy far, far away may be closer than originally anticipated.

With the release date of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" fast approaching, Associate Professor of Engineering and Technology David Kelley said things like holograms and other "space age technology"  are not only apart of our future — they are being used today.

"If you remember the (scenes) from "Star Wars" where they were able to project Emperor (Palpatine) in real time, those are holograms," Kelley said. "While it's not quite that sophisticated, we have one of those in (the college) which allows a person immerse themselves in a simulated computer graphics generated environment."

Lead by Emadeddin Tanbour, a faculty member with the School of Engineering and Technology, the Computer Aided Virtual Environment project — or CAVE — strives to bring the virtual into reality. Along with junior Grant Martino, senior John Sears and junior Mary-MaRae Baker, the four began the project last semester and hope to have it finished as early as the end of spring 2016.

"(CAVE) virtually simulates an object in 3D so you could basically walk around it and see errors in the blueprints before the product is made which helps companies save time and money," said Sears, a mechanical engineering major.

Kelley and Baker compare the CAVE generated 3D images to holograms used by the Jedi and members of the Galactic Senate to communicate in the "Star Wars" universe.

"With (CAVE) we can even simulate games like Fruit Ninja or play with lightsabers," Baker said.  

But virtual reality isn't the only thing that has come into existence since "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" was released in 1977. 

Adrian sophomore Edgar Gray said the invention of the iPad and video calling programs like Skype, while closer to technology in "Star Trek," are proof of how science-fiction has affected the field of technology. 

"More innovative technology is closer than we think," he said. "I feel like we could even make speeders happen if we focus on them, like creating ships which can travel at light-speed or hyper-speed. If we could (make space travel a reality) we could do so much with exploring other planets and galaxies, including our own." 

While technology has made leaps and bounds since R2-D2 and C3-PO shuffled across the sand dunes of Tattooine, many students and faculty lamented the same thing: a distinct lack of lightsabers in the 21st century.

"If I could make something myself from Star Wars, well of course I would have to make the lightsaber," Kelley said. "I mean, who wouldn't?"


About Jordyn Hermani

Troy senior Jordyn Hermani, Editor-in-Chief of Central Michigan Life, is a double major ...

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